The Impact of India in Travel

fernando vives travel trends Mar 13, 2024


Ever since I laid eyes on the staggering statistics, and even more so after my recent visits to Delhi and Mumbai, I've been absolutely captivated by India's market – it's a thrilling blend of tradition and innovation that's reshaping our industry!

India is a country of diverse cultures, languages, religions, and landscapes. It is also one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, with a population of over 1.3 billion people. India's travel industry is booming, both domestically and internationally, as more Indians seek to explore new destinations and experiences.

In this newsletter, we will examine India's impact on the global travel industry, its market peculiarities, and the opportunities and challenges for hospitality and travel businesses.

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Indias Economic Outlook

India's economy has been recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which severely affected its tourism sector. India's GDP making it one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. India's economic growth is driven by several factors, such as a large domestic market, a young and skilled workforce, a favorable demographic dividend, and a strong digital infrastructure.

India's economic growth is also influencing its travel industry, as more Indians have higher disposable incomes, aspirations, and mobility.


India's outbound tourism is projected to grow by 9.8% annually from 2018 to 2028, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). India is the second-largest source market for outbound tourism in Asia-Pacific, after China, and the seventh-largest in the world. India's outbound tourists spent $21.4 billion in 2018, making it the 17th-largest spender in the world. India's inbound tourism is also growing, as the country received 10.6 million international visitors in 2019, up from 8.9 million in 2016, according to the Ministry of Tourism. India's inbound tourists spent $30.1 billion in 2019, making it the 12th-largest earner in the world.

Based on Deloitte´s article "India economic outlook, January 2024" their context could be summarised as:

  • Economic Resilience: A decade ago, India faced economic challenges with a high current account deficit and inflation. Today, there's a significant turnaround with a lower current account deficit, improved foreign exchange reserves, and controlled inflation.

  • Growth Trajectory: India navigated through global economic shifts and crises, focusing on technological advancement, high-end manufacturing, and export competitiveness.

  • Positive Outlook: India's economy is projected to grow robustly in the near term, driven by strong performance in the industrial sector and global economic recovery.

  • Technological Infusion: Significant growth in India's digital economy and job creation, with government policies fostering innovation and financial inclusion.

  • Manufacturing Focus: Emphasis on developing niche manufacturing sectors and infrastructure to boost the economy and create jobs.

  • Export Emphasis: Diversification of the export basket towards higher value-added products, improving global competitiveness.

  • Challenges and Opportunities: While optimistic, India's economic growth is subject to global economic conditions, political stability, and effective policy implementation.

Impact on Global Travel

India's growing influence in global travel is evident in several aspects, such as tourist numbers, spending patterns, and destination preferences.

India is one of the largest and fastest-growing source markets for several regions and countries, such as the Middle East, Europe, Southeast Asia, and Australia.

India is also a key destination for many travelers, especially from neighboring countries, such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bhutan, as well as from the US, the UK, and Canada.



One of the most notable features of India's travel market is its burgeoning middle class, which is estimated to comprise 600 million people by 2030, according to the World Economic Forum.

India's middle class is driving the demand for travel, as they seek more leisure, adventure, and experiential travel. India's middle class is also more digitally savvy, educated, and aspirational, and they are influenced by social media, online reviews, and word-of-mouth. India's middle class is also more diverse, as it includes women, millennials, and seniors, who have different travel preferences and needs.

Market Peculiarities

India's travel market is unique in many ways, as it reflects its cultural and economic diversity. Some of the peculiarities of India's travel market are:

  • Preferred destinations: India's outbound tourists prefer short-haul destinations, such as Dubai, Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia, as they offer visa-free or visa-on-arrival facilities, affordability, and proximity. India's outbound tourists also favor long-haul destinations, such as the US, the UK, France, and Australia, as they have family, friends, or business connections there. India's inbound tourists prefer cultural and historical attractions, such as the Taj Mahal, Rajasthan, and Kerala, as well as natural and wildlife attractions, such as the Himalayas, Goa, and the Andaman Islands.

  • Spending habits: India's outbound tourists are price-sensitive, but also value quality and convenience. They tend to book in advance, compare prices, and look for deals and discounts. They also spend more on shopping, entertainment, and dining than on accommodation and transportation. India's inbound tourists are more varied in their spending habits, depending on their origin, purpose, and duration of travel. They tend to spend more on accommodation, transportation, and sightseeing than on shopping and entertainment.

  • Cultural nuances: India's travel market is influenced by its cultural and religious diversity, which affects travel choices and behavior. For instance, India's outbound tourists tend to travel in groups, such as family, friends, or colleagues, and prefer destinations that cater to their dietary, linguistic, and religious needs. India's inbound tourists need to be aware of the cultural and social norms, such as dress codes, etiquette, and customs, when visiting India. They also need to be respectful of the religious and historical significance of the places they visit.

  • Digital transformation: India's travel market is undergoing a digital transformation, as more travelers use online platforms and mobile devices to plan, book, and share their travel experiences.

    According to a report by Google and Bain & Company, online travel penetration in India is expected to reach 50% by 2020, up from 25% in 2018. India's online travel market is dominated by domestic players, such as MakeMyTrip, Yatra, and Cleartrip, as well as global players, such as, Expedia, and Airbnb.

Opportunities and Challenges

India's travel market offers immense opportunities for hospitality and travel businesses, as it is one of the most dynamic and lucrative markets in the world.

India's travel market also poses several challenges for hospitality and travel businesses, as it is one of the most demanding and unpredictable markets in the world.


Some of the challenges are:

  • Visa regulations: India's visa regulations are often seen as a barrier for inbound and outbound tourism, as they are complex, restrictive, and costly. India's visa regulations vary depending on the origin, purpose, and duration of travel, and they often require multiple documents, biometric verification, and prior approval. India's visa regulations also change frequently, which creates confusion and uncertainty for travelers and businesses.

  • Cultural differences: India's cultural differences are often seen as a challenge for inbound and outbound tourism, as they create communication and expectation gaps between travelers and businesses. India's cultural differences include language, religion, cuisine, dress, and behavior, which can vary significantly across regions and states. India's cultural differences also affect the perception and satisfaction of travelers and businesses, as they may have different standards and preferences.

Conclusions and Final Thoughts

India is a rising star in the global travel industry, as it offers immense opportunities and challenges for hospitality and travel businesses.

India's travel market is diverse, dynamic, and lucrative, as it is driven by its economic growth, demographic dividend, and digital transformation. India's travel market is also unique, complex, and competitive, as it is influenced by its cultural and economic diversity, visa regulations, and competition.

Hospitality and travel businesses need to understand, adapt, and innovate to cater to the Indian market, and to leverage its potential and impact on the global travel industry.

Let me know what you think on comments, I read and answer most of them!

Until next time, keep exploring the endless possibilities of hospitality.

Fernando Vives

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The views and opinions expressed in this newsletter are solely those of Fernando Vives and do not necessarily reflect those of any company or organization I work for or I am affiliated with, nor those of their partners or suppliers. The data sources used are mostly public, ChatGPT may have been used for research assistance, copywriting or editing. If you find any discrepancies or errors in the data or insights shared, please reach out to me via LinkedIn for necessary adjustments. Thank you for following and being a part of this community.

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